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Building a Culture of Peace
The Decade of Nonviolence — Houston

In 1997, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates issued a worldwide appeal to create a culture of nonviolence for the children of the world. The United Nations heard that plea and designated 2001-2010 as The United Nations International Decade for Building a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World.

Over 75 million citizens have signed on to this agreement, adding their personal commitment to, as the Nobel Laureates have asked:

  • Respect Life
  • Reject Violence
  • Share With Others
  • Listen to Understand
  • Preserve the Planet
  • Contribute to our Communities

In Houston, a group of committed citizens spearheaded the effort to establish a local chapter of the Decade. Launched at an inaugural dinner in November of 2001, The Decade of Nonviolence-Houston ("the Decade") has grown into an active presence in the peace/nonviolence community. We now encompass over 75 endorsing organizations and have recently become "official" as the State of Texas has approved our 501c(3) non-profit organization designation.

The Decade Board understands that the purpose of this organization is to encourage activities in Houston's religious, educational, business, and civic communities that nurture our children by teaching peacemaking skills. We believe that "To Reach Peace, You've Got to Teach Peace."

The Decade's mission is to introduce as many organizations from as many varied areas of our community as possible to the Nobel Laureate's "Commitment 2000" which elucidates the principles of nonviolence listed above.

On September 10, 2002, Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown issued a Proclamation commending the Decade of Nonviolence-Houston, acknowledging and endorsing our efforts to promote peace and nonviolence in our community.

The Decade's Board of Directors and Leadership Council have determined that two of the most important ways to accomplish our goals involve publicizing the Culture of Peace and educating citizens -- especially our children -about nonviolence as a way of life.

Some of the activities that the Decade has either directly led, cosponsored or organized over the last two years are:

  1. Established ongoing courses in nonviolence training, using the book "From Violence to Wholeness" by Ken Butigan, as created for and published by Pace e Bene. Currently, three separate courses are offered at various locations, with a fourth, a Spanish language course, to be added in the near future.
  2. In conjunction with the United Methodist Church, created a "Peace Mobile" which will carry peace and nonviolence materials, books, activities, displays, etc. to children and various groups throughout the city and surrounding areas.
  3. As part of our outreach and education program, established a lending library of peace/nonviolence books, music and videos for use by all of our endorsing organizations. The video selection includes the profound PBS documentary "A Force More Powerful."
  4. Created the Wall of Hope -- a large, portable display which chronicles the human history of nonviolence.
  5. Co-sponsored, with Soka Gakkai International -- Houston, the Second Annual Daniel Pearl Foundation World Music Day on October 5, 2003.
  6. Produced Public Service announcements for local radio stations, promoting the Decade and the concept of "Building a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World."
  7. Produced a radio program which aired October 29, 2003 for our local Pacifca radio station (KPFT Houston). The program featured representatives of three of our endorsing organizations, discussing what they have done to promote nonviolence and how their activities support the mission of the Decade. Additionally, the program served to define the Decade for the local community and encouraged the listener's involvement in peace activities through joining the Decade as well as other local organizations. This program was so well received that it led to the development of an ongoing periodic show, "The Peace Hour," which involves a number of local peace-oriented groups as well as the Decade.
  8. Various members of our Speakers Bureau have made numerous presentations to area schools, churches, community and civic groups.
  9. In association with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and "A Houston Fit for Children," the Decade is participating in an exhibit series. Our first event will be cosponsoring with Soka Gakkai International Houston (www.sgi-usa.org) the Child Rights and Realities Exhibit at the Downtown Public Library from March 1 to 22. We anticipate this exhibit will receive a great deal of positive local media attention, as well as the support of the Mayor and City Council.
  10. Creation of our website: www.DecadeofNonviolence-Houston.org -along with brochures, banners and other materials.

Our commitment to co-create a culture of peace and nonviolence is real. We will continue to progress as we develop our outreach and educational programs and join with other likeminded groups from time to time for various activities and events. We have dedicated ourselves to achieving an ultimate goal of 1,000 endorsing organizations by the end of the Decade, spreading the message and the hope of the Nobel Peace Laureates.

Carole Keene is a member of the Board of Directors of the Decade of Nonviolence--Houston. She has been an activist for a number of years, primarily focused on issues of peace and justice, women's issues, animals and the environment. Carole is also involved with the Kucinich for President Campaign, actively working to help manifest the candidate's vision of a "Department of Peace" in the Capitol.

You may write Carole at carolekeene@juno.com.



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